Tracey Bregman on How Lauren Fenmore Fits Into 'Y&R' Villain Week

Michael Maloney
Young and the Restless Tracey Bregman
Q&A CBS

Young and the Restless continues its villain-themed episodes this week as the show’s most dastardly villains take center stage.

On Thursday, May 28, watch for Sheila (Kimberlin Brown) to pop up during Lauren (Tracey Bregman) and Michael’s (Christian LeBlanc) honeymoon. And on Friday, Bregman does double-duty as both Lauren and Sarah Smythe, Sheila’s sinister sister, who opted to have plastic surgery to make herself look like her sibling’s nemesis!

TV Insider chatted with Bregman on the long-running Lauren/Sheila feud (that got so big it traveled over to sister soap Bold and the Beautiful on more than on occasion) and the challenges of taking on a dual role – on the day rehearsals were dropped! Also, Bregman weighs in on the days when Lauren was no saint herself (her taunting of rival Beth Maitland's Traci Abbott would have gotten Lauren dragged on social media today!).

How are you doing being quarantined? Are you in Los Angeles?

Tracey Bregman: Yes, I am. I was in town for my son’s birthday and decided to stay. There was no way I could be without my children. I had been in New Orleans [which had a high rate of coronavirus] the weekend before self-quarantining started. I had also worked with Greg Rikaart (Kevin), who contracted it. I isolated away from my children not for two weeks, but for 30 days. I wasn’t taking any chances. Fortunately, I feel fine, amazing.

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On Monday’s show, David Kimble (Michael Corbett) apparently got his in a trash compactor after the masquerade ball ended. Do you have any memories of shooting that huge event. It was so rare that the whole cast was together under one roof.  

That’s true. I remember it used to take me three months to meet new cast members. At the ball, I had had my son Austin with me. He was born a month before we taped it. I had three or four other cast members sharing my dressing room and I felt so badly for them because I was breast-feeding every two hours. We kept the lights off so he could sleep. But the good news is because both of my sons were raised [at the CBS studios] with stage manager announcements going off all the time, they can now sleep through anything!

Even a regular day back then – no weddings or big party scenes – would go long.

Yes. Our normal days were 12 hours. We’d do three or four takes – with notes! That all changed over the years. In fact, Paul Rauch was our executive producer when I was playing dual roles [Lauren and Sarah] for the first time. One day, I had 27 scenes in a row! The day before, Paul decided we wouldn’t even do camera-blocking – we were now going straight to tape.

Wow. How’d you get through that?

I have no idea. I actually had to play three characters  in one day – Lauren, Sarah, and also, Sarah pretending to be Lauren in front of other people so, her ‘performance’ couldn’t be perfect. I wanted to see [the scenes after I shot some of them] so I could know whether or not to dial it up or down. It was rough…but I loved doing it.

Maria [Arena Bell, then, head writer] wrote the hell out of it. We had a great remote with all the mirrors. I was at work 6 a.m. one day and didn’t leave the next day until 4 a.m. I can’t praise everybody who was involved more. [Director] Mike Denney won an award for directing those scenes.

Tomorrow, Sheila makes a surprise appearance during Lauren and Michael’s (Christian LeBlanc) honeymoon after they wed in 2005. How’d your pairing come about?

We were so unlikely that Jack Smith [our then head writer and co-executive producer] hated it, at least, initially. Christian and I so wanted to work together. We thought we’d be good together. Jack said, ‘I’m not so sure.’ So, we played every scene we were in a lot more than what the scene called for. Jack saw what we were doing and then wrote us the most extraordinary love story ever, in my opinion.

CBS

How do you and Kimberlin keep it fresh each time Sheila returns?

Lauren and Sheila went at it many times over the years – not only on Y&R but on B&B, too. It wasn’t just two women who hated each other. There was so much emotion underneath it all. There was betrayal and pain. It was easy to sink back into each time we revisited it. Kimberlin and I had worked together for so long. We have a true trust with one another. We had to, physically, because we had so many fight scenes. There was an interesting dynamic between the two characters.

Lauren and Sheila’s fantasy confrontation pushed B&B to the No. 2 spot for the first time ever in 1992.

There was a cake on set when B&B went to No. 2. Susan Flannery (ex-Stephanie) was there and she really threw [praise] to both Kimberlin and me. I couldn’t adore Susan more for doing that. She acknowledged our contributions. I was thrilled that the reason I was brought over had worked! Those were great moments. I was there when Y&R turned No. 1 and I was there when B&B became No. 2.

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It wasn’t just the physical fights between Lauren and Sheila that were so intense. The language they used with one another was heightened. I was surprised to see some of those lines get on the air.

At one time, we had a Standards & Practices department at the network. Sometimes things would get through Other times, things couldn’t get through. Doug [Davidson, Paul] and I were doing a love scene one time, but too much of my back was showing and we had to redo it. We couldn’t say certain things, but if you go back to the shows with Beth [Maitland, Traci] and me, Lauren said [horrible] things. You could only get away with them on cable today.

You’re referring to Lauren’s words to Traci in terms of…

The taunting. Once, Lauren decided to throw a bikini party – everyone attending had to wear one to attend – that’s how mean she was to Traci. People didn’t know that Beth and I were best friends. We used to live near each other and we’d hang out all the time.

Around that time, I had hired a professional organizer in real-life. As I was talking to the organizer, she moved back up against the wall and then started sliding down it. I asked if she was okay. She said, ‘I thought you were going to talk to me and taunt me the way Lauren does Traci because I’m a little overweight.’ I was horrified that anyone would think that I was that way in real-life.

An episode with Lauren being mean to Traci could have made this week’s villains theme easily.

They should show the pool party episode. Michael [Damian, ex-Danny] and I sang. I think Beth did, too. The audience would see that Lauren was the original ‘mean girl.’ When Sheila came along, Lauren became a victim.

It’d be nice if, when the show comes back into production, they bring on a guy that would move Lauren and Traci into direct conflict. There’s all that history between them.

That would be amazing. We love working together. It’d be lovely.

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People’s lives have been changed radically in recent months. You went through an upheaval a while back when you lost your home in a fire. It’s not exactly the same as what we’re going through now, but do you have advice on how to cope?  

I do. It’s what’s been said to me, as well. It’s the first thing I try to do and it’s incredibly helpful – I try to give back. It can be very helpful to actively help others while you’re going through something difficult.

Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS